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Being able to customize a smartphone contract for your family’s needs is important. We all have different rules for our kids, so why use the same contract template? I love that LifeLock and the National PTA have created an interactive web tool for you and your child to sit down and discuss internet/smartphone/tablet rules, a.k.a., have “The Smart Talk.”
The Discussion Starts Here
Setting expectations with your kids isn’t just about printing a contract–it’s about having a discussion. And sometimes, it’s nice to have someone you trust to lead that conversation. The Smart Talk website is that someone. They start off by asking you and your child to enter your names (nothing is saved on their platform, it’s just so you can personalize your contract), then they ask a few questions about what type of talk you’d like to have, which will determine what is printed on your contract.
I really like that there is a variety of topics to discuss. Even though Jack isn’t texting and calling his friends yet, it’s never too early to discuss the rules for that. And with all of the Minecraft videos that are so popular right now with kids his age, having a discussion about Online Videos and Camera use is always a good idea.
I also like that the website goes through rules in a relaxed manner, which invites both the kids and parents to have a say in what’s going on. Though parents are the boss at the end of the day, I think it’s smart to allow your child to save a say in the rules. To be honest, I bet their rules aren’t so far off from yours.
After you discuss and answer the questions on your screen, you’ll be able to print out a copy of your agreement to sign. As I mentioned, your information isn’t saved in the platform–so, if you don’t print at the end you’ll have to go through the process again. It’s quick, though–it took us about 5 minutes to fill out the contract and then we looked over it and chatted again after it was printed.
Throughout the website, The Smart Talk has “Bonus Talks” set up for you to chat about. I love that they link to CommonSenseMedia.org, a website that I’ve relied on for years to help me navigate through the world of parental restrictions for video games, movies, and other activities. There are also Bonus Talks are set up to prompt discussions about passwords, appropriate ages for social media, and movie ratings.
There’s even a place to discuss how much your kids are allowed to spend on apps every month, if you choose to allow that. The entire process is completely custom.
When you’re done with your discussion, The Smart Talk web tool will prompt you to print your agreement and have both parent and child sign it. You can revisit the tool as much as you need to and update your agreement.
Why have a smartphone contract?
It’s always a good idea to have clear rules and expectations for devices with internet connectivity. Even cell phones, which allow kids to text and call one another, can benefit from a contract. Kids understand concrete rules, and there’s nothing more concrete than a written contract with your parents.
Is my kid ready for a smartphone contract?
Probably so! Even if your child doesn’t have a smartphone, they might have another device that the rules will apply to–a Kindle, cell phone, Xbox, or tablet? And think about their friends. If they head over to their friend’s house for the night, will they be exposed to the internet over there? The skills that are being taught by having The Smart Talk aren’t just skills for their smartphone or Kindle–they’re life skills. Be nice to people, come to Mom and Dad for help, he honest and responsible–life skills.
This post is sponsored by LifeLock, but all of the ideas and content are my own. We’re using a contract from The Smart Talk website to manage our internet use on Jack’s tablet.